The Cleveland Browns improved during the NFL draft, but they are still a year away.
That's one conclusion that can be drawn from ESPN's recent Fantasy Football Rankings Summit, an event that included fantasy experts and NFL analysts and ended with a 16-round draft for a PPR (point per reception) league.
Among the participants: analyst and former scout Field Yates, injury/fantasy expert Stephania Bell and fantasy gurus Matthew Berry and Mike Clay.
No Browns quarterback was drafted in 16 rounds, and the first Browns skill player was not drafted until the sixth round, all of which indicates where the Browns are as they build the roster after a miserable 2016 season.
Here's a rundown on the positions and where the Browns fell in the fantasy selections for this draft:
Quarterback. That no Browns were taken is not unreasonable given the uncertainty about who starts. Temper this with the fact that Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins was not taken until the 16th round, which shows the way quarterbacks are valued in fantasy leagues at this point in time. The fact that no Browns quarterback was taken is an indication of where the team is at the position. They have added DeShone Kizer to go with Cody Kessler or Brock Osweiler, but are a year away from being serious fantasy considerations.
Running back: Isaiah Crowell was the first Browns player taken -- in the sixth round, the 22nd back taken. This accurately reflects Crowell's season in 2016, when he averaged 4.8 yards per carry. That put him ninth in the league. However, he only had 198 carries, which ranked 20th. Crowell had the fewest carries of any back who ranked in the top 20 in rushing yards. More carries should equal more production.
Receiver: Corey Coleman was taken in the 10th round (92nd overall) -- just seven spots ahead of RB Duke Johnson -- and Kenny Britt was taken in the 12th round. This reflects accurately where the Browns are with this group, which is in the bottom third of the NFL and which is obviously affected by quarterback uncertainty. Coleman being the 40th receiver taken might be a surprise to some, but coach Hue Jackson did feel the need to challenge Coleman to "step up" in his second season. Coleman had issues with maturity, the nuances of NFL route running, and with playing in cold weather. He'll have to improve on all those areas if he is to reach his first-round NFL draft potential.
Tight end: The release of Gary Barnidge leaves the Browns with unproven options. First-round pick David Njoku is the 10th-ranked overall rookie, according to ESPN's fantasy ratings. In overall rankings, Crowell is the 20th running back, Coleman the 43rd receiver and Britt 48th.
Obviously, a draft on fantasy players does not predict results on the field. However, it is a fair indicator of the perception of where the Browns are as they build a team.
The Browns won't put a lot of time into where they are in fantasy, but for fans, it's a bit of a jolt back to cold reality coming off the high of a good draft weekend.